Running the Gauntlet — Turbo Zacian V in Both Formats

Hello PokeBeach readers! Today I welcome you back with yet another article. March 5th marked the legality date of the recently released Shining Fates expansion, and with it, several new additions make their way into the Standard format. The most notable of these additions include Crobat VMAX, Ball Guy, Kyogre (Amazing Rare), and of course, the card everyone was hyped about, Rusted Sword.

Impact of Rusted Sword

Shortly after Zacian V was released, speculation of the concept of a card to represent Zacian’s iconic in-game held Item started immediately, especially considering that it is required for Zacian to take on the form that we all know from most official artwork of Zacian, as well as on Zacian V. Most people assumed that the card would take on a damage increasing effect, with a split camp predicting a 50 damage buff for non-V Zacian, or adding a damage buff closer to 30 for all Zacian cards, Pokemon-V or otherwise. Needless to say, most people were somewhat surprised when the card was actually announced, but were further astonished by the fact that it adds 30 damage ONLY on Zacian V. Personally, I was somewhat disappointed with this, as I thought there would be an interesting increase in potential for cards like Zacian or Zacian (Amazing Rare).

With that being said, I think Rusted Sword was something that hovers on the line between being too good and being well balanced. The card adds little enough damage that it does not send decks like Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V into new territories of damage, while it also adds enough damage to make decks like Turbo Zacian V, the topic of this article, significantly stronger — even turning it into an extremely potent threat in the Standard format in addition to its already immense strength in the Expanded format.

Prior to Rusted Sword, Turbo Zacian V has been attempted by many but has never seen a ton of success. The most notable variant of Turbo Zacian V was the “Combo Zacian V” archetype featuring a combination of Jirachi Prism Star, Mr. Mime, and Oranguru. With the rotation to Team Up-on, however, there has never been a great reason to play Turbo Zacian V in Standard over the popular Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V or Lucario and Melmetal-GX / Zacian V decks because the speed change does not make up for the overall loss of strength or defensive power.

With that being said, several people have experimented with cards such as Banette to allow for more favorable Prize trades with decks like Eternatus VMAX, by devolving their Eternatus VMAX after hitting once in order to skip the need for a two-hit Knock Out. Additionally, I worked with a group of friends on a variant of Turbo Zacian V that we called “The Gauntlet” as we played twelve cards that included the text “Flip a Coin”, so every game we would be “running the gauntlet” of coin flips. Unfortunately, both of these Turbo Zacian V decks struggled when it came to taking necessary one-hit Knock Outs against decks like Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, so they ended up unable to compete with the rest of the format. However, these problems change with the introduction of Rusted Sword!

The Math

To understand the impact of Rusted Sword on a Zacian V, have a look at some math involving the card:

  1. Brave Blade (230) + Rusted Sword (30) = 260
    1. 260 takes one-hit Knock Outs on several critical Pokemon in the format. The most notable of these are Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, Lucario and Melmetal-GX, and Zacian V with either the effect of Lucario and Melmetal-GX’s Full Metal Wall GX or a Metal Goggles.
  2. Brave Blade + Rusted Sword + Galarian Perrserker (20) = 280
    1. The addition of Galarian Perrserker’s Steely Spirit allows Zacian V to get over the last hump that stops it from taking one-hit Knock Outs on every Basic Pokemon in Standard, excluding Magikarp and Wailord-GX, Moltres and Zapdos and Articuno-GX, and a few other Tag Team Pokemon-GX with Big Charm.
    2. The most notable numbers Zacian V is able to reach with this combination of cards are Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX, Mewtwo and Mew-GX, Raichu and Alolan Raichu-GX, and a pesky Big Charm on Pikachu and Zekrom-GX
  3. Brave Blade + Rusted Sword + Galarian Perrserker + Leon (30) + Galarian Zigzagoon (10) = 320
    1. As of now, I do not include this combination of cards in any of my Turbo Zacian V variants due to its inconsistency, but I felt it was a noteworthy number to mention, as this extravagant combination of cards allows Zacian V to finally reach the realm of taking a one-hit Knock Out on Centiskorch VMAX, which has historically been one of the biggest threats to the Turbo Zacian V archetype.

As you can see from that alone, Rusted Sword is poised to make a massive impact on Turbo Zacian V as an archetype, so now we will take a look at some lists featuring this powerful Pokemon Tool Card.

Standard Turbo Zacian V

As I have been talking about, Turbo Zacian V is in an interesting spot in the current Standard format because of the addition of Rusted Sword allowing it to reach damage levels that have previously been impossible. This newly-found damage ceiling drastically improves some of the matchups that have been historically extremely luck-based, or sometimes outright unwinnable. A great example of this is the Pikachu and Zekrom-GX matchup, which used to be one of your more difficult matchups due to it being virtually impossible to deal with your opponent using Full Blitz and accelerating onto their Active with no chance of a one-hit KO, but now Rusted Sword provides that extra little bump that was needed to reach into the one-hit Knock Out range. With a lot of ways of dragging Pokemon from your opponent’s Bench to their Active Spot, the deck is able to efficiently prey on weaker two-Prize Pokemon such as Dedenne-GX to win that way if need be.

Deck List

Pokemon (14)

4x Zacian V (SWSH1 #138)2x Zamazenta V (SWSH1 #139)2x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)2x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Galarian Perrserker (SWSH1 #128)1x Galarian Meowth (SWSH2 #126)1x Aegislash V (SWSH4 #126)1x Oranguru (SWSH1 #148)

Trainers (30)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH1 #178)4x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)3x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)2x Bird Keeper (SWSH3 #159)4x Metal Saucer (SWSH1 #170)4x Switch (SWSH1 #183)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)3x Rusted Sword (SFA #62)2x Air Balloon (SWSH1 #156)1x Great Catcher (COE #192)1x Tool Scrapper (SWSH2 #168)1x Chaotic Swell (COE #187)

Energy (13)

13x Metal Energy (HS #122)

Card Inclusions

Four Zacian V, Four Metal Saucer, and 13 Metal Energy

One statement that I frequently assert in my articles is that “consistency is king” when it comes to accessing your attackers, and in this deck, that certainly does not change. Unlike most decks, playing four copies of Zacian V in decks built around the card is especially important as it also acts as one of your strongest forms of Energy acceleration as well as card draw. As such, finding Zacian V as soon as humanly possible is your number one priority, maybe even more important than guaranteeing a Supporter card for the next turn.

In addition to the Energy acceleration provided by Zacian V’s Intrepid Sword, it is also critical to play four Metal Saucer for the turns where you are unable to Intrepid Sword, but need to make sure to get some extra attachments. Metal Saucer can also be considered the source of the “turbo” part of the deck’s name, as it allows you to feasibly power up a Zacian V as soon as the first turn of the game, putting a ton of pressure on the opponent.

We also play 13 Metal Energy in this deck to increase our odds of finding the card early while having plenty in the deck to fuel Intrepid Sword and Metal Saucer at the same time.

Two Zamazenta V and One Aegislash V

The purpose of these two cards is pretty similar: Deal with problematic cards.

In the case of Zamazenta V, I have cited that cards like Eternatus VMAX and Centiskorch VMAX are problematic for this deck, and Zamazenta V is able to wall both of them from dealing damage, buying you a little extra time and also setting up a Brave Blade Knock Out down the road if need be. Unfortunately, the latter is a bit more problematic for Zamazenta V as typical Centiskorch VMAX decklists play multiple outs to the wall such as Reshiram and Charizard-GX or Heatran-GX, but in the case of Eternatus VMAX, Zamazenta V is extremely effective as it usually only leaves Crobat V or maybe a couple of weak Yveltal as the only attacking options.

As opposed to the big bulky Pokemon that Zamazenta V is designed to handle, Aegislash V deals with the opposite end of the spectrum. Aegislash V is specifically included to act as an answer to Decidueye and Galarian Obstagoon, as both of them wall out this deck almost entirely. Usually, with some early pressure, a well-timed Aegislash V should be able to make fairly quick work of any Decidueye that come your way as opposed to taking a hasty loss in the matchup. I know this tech is not for everyone, so if I were to omit it I would probably include a Mawile-GX or Cobalion-GX to help with other matchups and act as an extra attacker.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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